Shelf Control is a weekly celebration hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies, of the unread books on our shelves. Lisa says: “Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.”
Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!
This is now my fifth time doing this – yeah, I guess I’m hooked!
Very recently, an old Internet friend of mine put on Facebook that he had just read this book, and was blown away. Now this person (whom I’ve known online since about 1996, but never met in real life) is someone whose opinion I value. Up until now, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him put up any type of review of any books he’s read (I’m sure he reads. We met on a discussion forum for writers), so I was taken aback and his enthusiasm. Moreover, I then remembered that I had a copy of this book already on my bookshelf!
Now, I know Annie Proulx’s work. I reviewed her novel “The Shipping News” and her short stories “Close Range” on this blog (at one time I had two copies of those stories, and now I seem to have none. Hm…). Anyway, let’s look at the blurb for this on Goodreads, which is as follows:
Pulitzer Prize–winning author Annie Proulx brings the immigrant experience to life in this stunning novel that traces the ownership of a simple green accordion.
E. Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes is a masterpiece of storytelling that spans a century and a continent. Proulx brings the immigrant experience in America to life through the eyes of the descendants of Mexicans, Poles, Africans, Irish-Scots, Franco-Canadians and many others, all linked by their successive ownership of a simple green accordion. The music they make is their last link with the past—voice for their fantasies, sorrows and exuberance. Proulx’s prodigious knowledge, unforgettable characters and radiant language make Accordion Crimes a stunning novel, exhilarating in its scope and originality.
Well, that sounds interesting. However, I wonder if in today’s world, someone who has roots in America that reach as far back as only 15 years after the Mayflower would be considered an appropriate writer about the immigrant story. That said, I notice that on the back of my edition, there’s more:
This is the story of a green, two-row button accordion. Brought to America by its Sicilian maker in 1890, it survives a century and traverses a continent. The accordion’s music resounds around the Cajun bayoux; notes drift out of a lonely Chicago tenement. A French-Canadian orphan struggles to master the battered instrument left behind by his parents, searching for a lost past.
Whether given, sold or stolen, the accordion passes through the hands of a host of unlucky owners who embody the hopes, hardships, and passions of immigrant life in twentieth-century America. Utterly original, Proulx’s novel stays in the mind like an old song and tugs at the memory like a half-forgotten tune
Oh, now this sounds more like it. I’m beginning to understand why we bought this – and apparently it was more than just the author. So… Let’s take a look at the opening piece which appears before the first chapter.
My dad came over with a button accordion in a gunny sack, that’s about all he had. – RAY MAKI – liner notes, “Accordions in the Cutover”
Without the presence of black people in America, European-American would not be “white” – they would be only Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and others engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity. – CORNEL WEST, “Race Matters”
Caminante no hay camino,
Se Hace Camino al andar.
Traveler, there is no path,
Paths are made by walking.
Well, that certain is an interesting collection of quotes. There’s also another opening, which talks about the accordion itself. But I’ll pass on that and go to the first section, called “The Accordion Maker” that comes with a drawing of an accordion, and a caption that reads “A two-row button accordion.” The first chapter is called “The instrument” and the opening paragraph reads:
It was as if his eye were an ear and a crackle went through it each time he shot a look at the accordion. The instrument rested on the bench, laquer gleaming like wet sap. Rivulets of light washed mother-of pearl, the nineteen polished bone buttons, winked a pair of small oval mirrors rimmed in black paint, eyes seeking eyes, seeking the poisonous stare of anyone who possessed maloccho, eager to reflect the bitter glance back at the glancer.
Okay so… tell me that doesn’t turn you on? It makes me really, Really, REALLY want to read on. And if you do (okay, I kept reading a bit more), you’ll see the accordion being built. Now, since we know this novel is going to follow that accordion, I’m very intrigued. So, obviously…
My verdict is…
YES this will stay on my TBR list!
From what I’ve put here, would you read it? Have you read it? If so, would you recommend it?
You still want to buy this book you can find it via the following (affiliate) links: Amazon, Bookshop.org, UK.Bookshop, iTunes (iBook and iAudiobook), Indiebound, Alibris, Kobo (eBooks and audiobooks), Better World Books, Booksamillion, eBooks.com, Foyles, The Book Depository (UK and US), Waterstones, WHSmith, and Wordery (UK and US).
Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:
- Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
- Add your link in the comments to Lisa’s latest post, or link back from your own post, so Lisa can add you to the participant list.
- Check out other posts, and…